'Breaking Bad' Creator Vince Gilligan Remembers Robert Forster: "Salt of the Earth"

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Robert Forster in 'Jackie Brown' (1997)

"He had a very special bunch of qualities," added pal David Lynch of the actor, who died Oct. 11 at the age of 78.

One of the fan theories swirling around the Breaking Bad universe is that Robert Forster's character (Ed, vacuum repairman) was an extension of the star's role in Quentin Tarantino's 1997 film Jackie Brown (Max, bail bondsman).

"It's not true, but I love that," says Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan. "Jackie Brown is my favorite Tarantino movie. I love that character. You just want to have a beer with him. I wish Robert had a dozen more like that."

Actually, he did. Although Jackie Brown earned Forster — who died Oct. 11, the premiere day for El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie — his lone Oscar nom, the actor played lots of guys who seemed like swell drinking buddies.

"His face, his voice, his manner, his presence — he had a very special bunch of qualities," notes David Lynch, who in the late '80s nearly cast Forster as Sheriff Truman on Twin Peaks. "He had promised a friend he would make his movie, so we went to Michael Ontkean. But then 25 years later, Ontkean couldn't do the Twin Peaks movie, so I went back to Robert to play his brother. It was fate."

Gilligan saw special qualities as well. "He always came across as the salt of the earth," he says. "He couldn't hide that onscreen."

This story first appeared in the Oct. 16 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.